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This western is another entry in the Saturday matinée filler catalogue of Indians on the warpath. The main plot is a demand by the Indians for an Indian army scout and a siege at a trading post that results in the fireworks that follow. The action is decent and the 3D camera effects are good but cannot disguise the picture's low budget look. The cast is good and is perhaps the best thing about the film, in spite of the trite script. Phil Carey, Wallace Ford, Jay Silverheels, Pat Hogan and Maurice Jara are a treat to watch, and tough guy supreme Lee Van Cleef is on hand in one of his early roles. Roberta Haynes, who paired with Carey in other westerns, is the love interest in a triangle that plays out in the trading post during the siege by the Indians. Technicolor and music are good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was able to watch "The Nebraskan" (1953) that starred Philip Carey
(of "Calamity Jane" (1953) fame). It's definitely a 'B grade' cowboy
film with a simple plot.
Army scout & his friend, Wade & Mac (Wallace Ford) looked to arrest N.A. friend, Wingfoot. He supposedly murdered the Sioux tribe's chief. Wade & Mac will have quite an adventure getting the whole party of stagecoach passengers & two prisoners back to Fort Kearney through an evil new chief (Jay Silverheels) & his henchmen who have reason to kill them all. There is also escaped prisoner Pvt. Reno Benton who is causing as much trouble as possible.
This is as extremely brief description but I enjoyed it. You just didn't have to concentrate heavily on what was going on...easy watching, easy listening, it was just fun.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Raiders of Tomahawk Creek" director Fred F. Sears' "The Nebraskan"
attests to the popularity of westerns during the Eisenhower era. This
standard cavalry versus the redskins horse opera set in Nebraska packs
plenty of action as white men trapped in an isolated way station battle
Predictable as the stock characters that inhabit it, "The Nebraskan" contains a couple of narrative revelations as well as good, solid performances from Phil Carey, Richard Webb, Jay Silverheels, but veteran screen heavy Lee Van Cleef takes top honors as a thoroughly evil cavalry deserter who has no qualms about killing in cold blood.
You will no doubt notice all those wonderful images of objects, arrows, knives, and flaming ceiling posts thrust toward the camera. "The Nebraskan" was one of Columbia's entries in the 3-D sweepstakes in the year 1953 right after United Artists released "Bwana Devil" as the first example of 3-D. Many of the effects here appear to be inserted just as some stock footage of Indians on the warpath look like they were re-photographed with rocks laid into the foreground to enhance the 3-D look. "The Nebraskan" isn't the best nor is it the worst 3-D movie, just as it is neither the best nor the worst western.
The action unfolds with Wade Harper (Phil Carey of "Return to Warbow") and Indian scout Wingfoot (Maurice Jara of "Take the High Ground") riding hell-bent-for-leather across rugged scenery with Spotted Bear (Jay Silverheels of "The Lone Ranger") and his Sioux warriors hot on their heels. Our hero and his prisoner barely make it inside Fort Carney before the rampaging Indians pull up outside the gates. Colonel Markham (Regis Toomey of "The High and the Mighty") warns Spotted Bear that Nebraska has just become a state and that both whites and Indians must obey the law. Wingfoot and Harper, it seems, were sent to conclude a peace pact with the Sioux, but Spotted Bear discovered Chief Thundercloud with a knife in his back dead not long after Wingfoot had left the chief's tent. Harper brought Wingfoot back as his prisoner so that the Sioux wouldn't use the occasion as a pretext to violence. Spotted Bear isn't happy with this arrangement, but he accepts it.
The Army locks Wingfoot up in the guard house with notorious Private Reno Benton (Lee Van Cleef, who wears his cavalry hat like he did years later in "The Big Gundown"). The villainous Reno strangles an inept guard (Robert Williams) who gets too close to the barred cell door, and then he relieves him of his keys. Reno forces Wingfoot to join him so that the Indian lead him to safety amidst all the irate Indians. Reno isn't content with killing one sentry. He stabs another in the back before the bugler sounds the alarm and Wingfoot and he high tail it out of Fort Carney. Markham assigns Harper and a handful of men, led by Captain De Witt (a barely recognizable Dennis Weaver of "McCloud") to pursue the escaped prisoners. Four days later, a tired, irritable De Witt rejects Harper's suggestion about taking the long way instead of a short cut in their pursuit of Reno and Wingfoot, and everybody but Harper survives a cleverly laid ambush by Reno. No sooner has Reno and Wingfoot taken off than they run into another cavalry patrol on the way to Fort Carney. Reno cannot argue his way out of this predicament so Wingfoot and he ride along until the cavalry patrol ride to the rescue of a stagecoach being chased by whooping Indians in war paint. The stagecoach overturns but the cavalry arrives in time to save two passengers, Ace Elliot (Richard Webb of "Prince Valiant") and his wife Paris (Roberta Haynes of "Hell Ship Mutiny"), and the commander allows Reno and Wingfoot to escort them to a nearby watering hole called MacBride's.
No sooner have the cavalry ridden away than Reno turns his carbine on the Elliots and robs them. Unfortunately, for Reno, the resilient Wade Harper makes a convenient appearance and turns the tables on the murdering cavalryman. Our heroes, heroine, and the prisoners ride off to McBride's way station, run by a crusty old-timer 'Mac' McBride (Wallace Ford of "Freaks"). About that time, Spotted Bear and his Sioux warriors descend on the way station with all their guns blazing and lay siege to our heroes.
Phil Carey portrays buckskin clad cavalry scout Wade Harper as an omniscient expert in all things Indian, but his character isn't very comfortable around women. It seems that Paris and he had a thing going once that didn't pan out because Harper wasn't very good with words. Paris, on the rebound, wound up getting hitched so-to-speak to the duded-up city-slicker Ace who reveals his true colors later after the Indians besiege them in Mac's stone cabin. Richard Webb does a better-than-average job as the cowardly Ace. Veteran western scenarist David Lang of "The Last Outpost" and "Ambush at Tomahawk Gap" co-wrote this passable oater with Martin Berkeley of "Red Sundown" and "Revenge of the Creature." According to IMDb.COM, Berkeley gained a notoriety by naming more Hollywood directors, actors, and writers at the infamous HUAC hearings in the 1950s than anybody else. Lang and Berkeley wrap up everything, even the mystery behind Chief Thundercloud's death, in a finale that leaves the dust settled. Appropriately enough, Lee Van Cleef dies with an Indian knife in his back.
"The Nebraskan" is nothing special, certainly not a memorable cavalry oater of John Ford quality. Nevertheless, it reminds us how many hundreds of westerns like it were produced in the 1950s when moviegoers couldn't get enough of the Old West. Picture's saving grace is its trim 68-minute running time.
A whole group of competent B film players get cast in The Nebraskan
which as a film might pass muster for an episode on a television
western. It's one of the most contrived pieces of film making I've ever
First we have some Comanche politics where Maurice Jara is accused of murdering the old chief in a palace coup d'etat. His accuser is Jay Silverheels who becomes the new chief. Things are really bad though when Jara decides white man's justice is better so his friend, army scout Philip Carey brings him in.
But when they lock him in the army guard house, another prisoner there, Lee Van Cleef has other ideas. He's a trooper accused of murder and he busts out together with Jara.
Then we got passengers on a stage Richard Webb and Robert Haynes, husband and wife, who get rescued by the cavalry and then rescued by Carey on the trail of Van Cleef and Jara. Wouldn't you know it she's Carey's old flame who married Webb on the rebound.
All these good folks wind up at Wallace Ford's old besieged by Silverheels and the Comanches who want Jara real bad. If you have no idea how this is all going to end, you've not seen too many westerns.
Regis Toomey as the post commanding colonel and Dennis Weaver as a hot headed young captain complete the cast of this western. It's way too contrived for my taste and the ending in how all is put right makes no sense at all.
But if you're interested in what I'm talking about sit through The Nebraskan and find out.
Seen a hundred times: a small group of people in a post station besieged
- a brave cavalry scout
- his former girl friend, now married to a rich coward - the rich coward
- an indian cavalry scout, accused of murder of an indian chieftain
- an old cavalry man, friend of the scout (and responsible for the poor humor)
- an mad cavalry man and killer (Lee Van Cleef, who else ?)
The Story ? Kill a lot of Indians, talk much and often change the power (I thing the coward alone betrayed the other three times) The only good thing in this 3D movie is the short running time (excuse for my school English)
An army scout captures Wingfoot--an Indian who works for the
cavalry--who is wanted for murder. He brings him into the fort but the
Indian, along with Lee Van Cleef, manages to escape. So Carey has to go
after them. A no-good man and a woman, which he claims to be his wife,
are rescued by Cleef and Wingfoot after their stagecoach is over-turned
in an Indian chase. That's when Carey manages to catch Wingfoot/Cleef
and takes them to a relay station where an old timer agrees to help
take them back to the fort. Suddenly, before they can leave, they find
they are surrounded by the Indians who want Wingfoot because the murder
he is wanted for was their chief. Now Carey, the man and woman (who
turns out to be Carey's former girlfriend), the relay manager and the
two outlaws are trapped. There's lots of shooting and even a few times
of catching the relay station on fire before the finale.
The acting in the movie is labored. It seems none of the actors/actresses were comfortable in their role nor had they learned their lines. It was really pitiful. But that was not the worst.
One of the most ridiculous things about the movie, other than the contrived, forced acting by all, is the use of fake rocks which are held up in front of the camera during the chase scenes and continue to move back and forth as though whoever was holding the picture could not hold it still. The "rocks" were there to highlight the front portion of the scenery and make it look "rocky" to match the mountains in the far background. But they certainly LOOKED super-imposed! It REALLY cheapens the movie. Were it not for the fact I taped it off cable I would not spend money to buy it on video/DVD.
Considering the cast and crew, this could have been a much better Oater, but what we see is a cliche-ridden, hackneyed plot with all of the 50s stereotypes. What action there is, turns out either to be objects hurled at the camera for 3D effect or stock footage from earlier films. This one is an easy pass.
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